The temperature and the leaves are falling. Whether you are cleaning up the yard, tidying the garage, or readying the home for winter – all these tasks can involve lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, stretching, twisting, and turning. And truth be told, like many things, most people tend to overextend themselves.
But good news! Taking a few precautions can go a long way in helping avoid injury. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this season:
Have a plan.
Take some time to plan your projects over several days or over the weekends. It does not have to all be accomplished over one single day. Pace yourself! You are at greater risk of injury when you are in a hurry to get things done and “overdo it.”
Take frequent breaks and/or change to a different activity. For example, you could rake leaves for several minutes and then switch to bagging the leaves. These two different tasks involve different movements for your body.
Set goals and know your limits. Being realistic about what you can accomplish can prevent over extension and injury.
Whenever possible, enlist help and assign tasks. Ask a neighbor, call a friend, or hire a service. Different opportunities are present if you look.
Set yourself up for success.
If you must perform a task that involves elevation of your upper extremities, use a step stool or ladder to reduce reaching. You could also consider the use of telescopic handles. These types of tools require less energy and will assist you in keeping your body in proper alignment whilst performing the task.
Just as you don’t use a fork to eat soup, choose the proper tool for the task at hand. That is not necessarily the tool your father or your neighbour used, it is the tool that is the correct fit for you, your own structure, and your own job demands. The tool should feel comfortable and natural to you when in use.
Donne well-fitting gloves with good grip. Loose-fitting or cloth gloves will decrease coordination and increase the grip strength required causing hand and arm fatigue.
Monitor your positioning.
Keep your shovel, rake, or broom close to your body. The use of this position rests the spinal joints, relaxes back muscles, and relieves muscle strain.
Assess your leg positioning. You can decrease the tension on your back by placing one leg forward and the other behind in a lunge type position. Alternate your legs and hands from time to time. In this way, you will always keep your center of gravity in the right place.
Use your whole body (not just your back and arms) when you sweep, mop or vacuum. This reduces repetitive strain on one single body part, joint or muscle group.
Need a lift?
When bagging leaves keep your back straight and use your legs to do the lifting. If you must stoop from the back, face the pile of leaves and avoid twisting as you lift. This can act to reduce strain.
Avoid piling too many leaves into one bag, especially if they’re wet. This can create a load that will be heavy and awkward to lift; Smaller, frequent loads may be more optimal.
But if the season comes and you forget some of the tips above – do not worry… Consult a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are regulated health care professionals who have the knowledge and skills to help relieve pain, increase mobility, build strength, and improve balance and function. A physiotherapist can assess your injury and provide appropriate treatment to help get you back up to speed as well as give advice on how to prevent recurrence of injury. To book an appointment click the contact us button on our web page, send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call 1-204-325-8555.